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Healthy, Affordable Baby Food Supplemented With Nutrition Education Addresses Child Malnutrition in Nigeria

Interview with Seun Sangoleye, Founder, Baby Grubz

Can you tell us more about your reasons for founding the Baby Grubz company?

It was borne out of a personal desire; after I had my son and he refused to take infant formula, I had to extend my maternity leave to remedy the situation. He later developed rickets at around nine months. After we visited the hospital, I was made to realize that the lasting solution was nutrition. At the hospital, we got some recommendations on what to feed him but then the meal suggestions were expensive and mostly not tasty.

Our regular visits to the doctor’s office opened my eyes to the mortality situation of children under five in Nigeria. I constantly ran into other clueless mothers and hungry children and I knew there should be a homegrown and sustainable solution to address the hidden hunger and malnutrition in children, and I decided that I was going to do something about it.

Your distributors are trained to provide peer mentoring as nutrition educators. Why did you decide to supplement your sales with mentoring, and how are the mentors trained?

A number of mothers were practicing very dangerous feeding practices of force feeding children, even abusing drugs to make children eat. It was imperative to raise awareness about these fatal practices and also to train them on better solutions that we had developed. We thought it best to do it through peer-peer mentoring for more sustained impact.

Almost every mum I encountered constantly asked the same questions that I had about feeding children. I was stretched thin at a point and I knew that we needed a more sustainable model to pass on this information. We hold online trainings via WhatsApp and Zoom and share training materials via WhatsApp and emails. The micro-entrepreneurs also double as peer mentors in their communities. We create income opportunities by making them direct sales representatives in their communities to both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) customers.

How do you ensure that your baby food products are high quality and affordable for underserved communities, while also running a profitable business?

For high quality: We use high quality raw materials with special care on traceability and adherence to safe and best practices in manufacturing processes – GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), GHP (Good Health Practice) and also manufacturing to Codex standards in a sterile and controlled environment. We also use semi-automated machines to reduce human contact and risk of contamination.

For affordability: We constantly are looking for ways to bring down production costs through innovative raw materials and bulk production, and we are currently looking into sachetization of our products (to allow us to sell them in small packets).

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